Narnia: As Like As Two Twins

[Narnia Content Note: Racism, Rape, Kidnapping, Abuse]

Narnia Recap: Shasta has crossed the mountains into Narnia. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 12: Shasta in Narnia

We've been in Chapter 12 for awhile and that's partly my fault, but there's just so much to absorb and I'm struggling to tear through it. Today is going to recap some of the points in the last post because (a) there's a lot to recap and (b) I was on some new prescription medications last time and not as lucid as I would have liked. So let's try this again.

Shasta wakes up, meets some Talking Animals, and is taken home by a family of Dwarves so that he can rest and have some solid food--important, since he's been awake for what feels like three days now and hasn't really had a decent meal that wasn't travel rations stuffed in a bag or cold fruit scavenged straight from the orchard back in Tashbaan.

   “Come on, then, come on,” said the Dwarf, at once throwing his thick little arms round Shasta’s waist to support him. “Why, neighbors, we ought all to be ashamed of ourselves! You come with me, lad. Breakfast! Better than talking.”
   [...] And immediately, mixed with a sizzling sound, there came to Shasta a simply delightful smell. It was one he had never smelled in his life before, but I hope you have. It was, in fact, the smell of bacon and eggs and mushrooms all frying in a pan.

The worship of English food in this series isn't something new, and that's probably why it's easy to pass over it here, but look, it's important to understand that the Calormen are Fantasy Muslims. I think it's easy for white readers to forget that because they can be read as sort of vaguely "other", but there are cues throughout this book which strongly tie them to Muslim real world counterparts. So it's incredibly fucked up that the first taste of Real English Food that Shasta encounters--food he's never tasted before or even smelled--is bacon. Pork. Not halal, but haram, food.

And it's important to note that Shasta hasn't been bereft of pork merely because he was a poor fisherman's son/slave who lived by the sea. He's been in the market of Tashbaan, where the scent of every kind of delicious and purchasable food was available to tempt the nose. He's been on the road for "weeks and weeks" visiting the towns and villages of Calormen and bartering food with them and visiting their inns for his meals. In all that time, over all that distance, across all those farms, and through the entire vast capital city of Tashbaan, Shasta never once smelled frying pig fat.

Now he does. And it's the most amazing thing he's ever smelled and he eats it and it's the most delicious meal ever and he's satisfied and happy. He's English, he's Christian, and he's decidedly non-Muslim in his habits and eating. Could all this be a coincidence? Sure, okay. Is it still really really problematic and gross, even if it is? Yes. Yes, it is a problem.

   He slept pretty well nearly all day but woke up in time for supper. The beds in that house were all too small for him but they made him a fine bed of heather on the floor, and he never stirred or dreamed all night. Next morning they had just finished breakfast when they heard a shrill, exciting sound from outside.

I've got to hand it to Lewis: he figured out a way to get bacon into his ex-Muslim protagonist twice. Double breakfastses.

I didn't talk about this so much last time because I think I've beat this horse enough, but Shasta has come out of a culture with no Talking Animals into one full of Talking Animals and, after a long talk with Squirrels and Stags and other forest folk, he's just happily and unquestioningly tucked into a meal of meat and eggs. It doesn't seem to have occurred to him to ask where the meat and eggs came from, which I seem to recall being Jill's and Eustace's sin in The Silver Chair and of course Edmund was castigated in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe for not being choosy about what he put in his mouth. Here Shasta just shovels in the bacon as fast as he can and Aslan smiles up in the clouds.

The thing about this is, Narnia has its own dietary restrictions which could be paralleled to many religious dietary restrictions. They don't seem to have restrictions in terms of how the meat is prepared, but they absolutely have restrictions about where the meat comes from: pigs are fine to eat but Pigs are not. Presumably (one hopes?) eggs from chickens are all well and good to consume but eggs from Chickens are forbidden from the dinner table. The milk at the Dwarves table came, we must assume, from cows or goats (probably cows, since the Hermit was noteworthy for having goats) rather than from Cows and Goats.

But the thing about dietary restrictions like this is that the food is labelled. People care. No one wants to accidentally eat the wrong thing, no one wants to have the wrong thing fed to them by someone unscrupulous and willing to make a buck off your misfortune. We never see any of that in Narnia. The milk isn't packaged in a specially-stamped bottle declaring its contents to be safe. There are no inspectors touring the facilities to make sure that only cows are milked and there are no Cows being kept in captivity (or Cows seeding their own milk into the production for profit or other reasons).

I'm not sure these things could exist in Lewis' idealized Golden Age of the Pevensies; food regulation smacks of bureaucracy rather than Rugged Individuals. I guess we're meant to think that the Dwarves produced all this food themselves, or at least know all the coffee farmers and milk ranchers and bacon growers by name and reputation? That seems like a fuckload of work to make sure you never commit the cultural and religious taboo of cannibalism in this setting. Especially when we know there are evil dwarves and evil giants and evil men to the north and south willing to slay sapient creatures for consumables. Like, this isn't some impossible hypothetical that no-one would ever do; it's a thing that's canonically being done in some of the neighboring countries right now.

All this is just weirdly juxtaposed here. Lewis is so proud that his English protagonist isn't going to have to follow all those cumbersome religious and cultural dietary laws that they observe in Calormen, but he's put no thought into how Shasta is going to follow the cumbersome dietary laws of his new kingdom. How do the Narnians grapple with Cows who want the right to sell their milk for money? (Humans argue over this with regards to our own breast milk, in case you weren't aware.) How do they deal with Pigs who are willing for their bodies to be consumed in cases of natural death?

In short: If Duffle the Dwarf feels a strong moral, religious, and cultural taboo against eating products of Talking Animals--which is his right as an individual--what steps is he able to take to make sure those products don't pass his lips against his will? Lewis strikes me as That Guy to get pissy about halal and kosher packaging stamps at the grocery store, but has put zero thought into how food would need to be marked, marketed, and inspected in his universe where only one specific country out of many consider it forbidden to eat animal products from sapient animals.

Anyway, Lewis isn't interested in the theological implications of Aslanism (because Talking Animals aren't a real thing in England so who cares about consistent world-building, amiright) nearly so much as he's interested in the theological implications of Christianity vs. Islam and his need to shovel bacon into his protagonist and then get on with the story. So get on we do.

   First came the Lord Peridan on a bay horse carrying the great banner of Narnia—a red lion on a green ground. Shasta knew him at once. Then came three people riding abreast, two on great chargers and one on a pony. The two on the chargers were King Edmund and a fair-haired lady with a very merry face who wore a helmet and a mail shirt and carried a bow across her shoulder and a quiver full of arrows at her side. (“The Queen Lucy,” whispered Duffle.) But the one on the pony was Corin.

Wait, what. The Stag was going to Cair Paravel, not the beach--the Stag didn't even know King Edmund and Queen Susan wouldn't be at Cair Paravel because he ran off before anyone could tell him--but the two are sort of close together in that way of Narnian geography. (We can see the Stone Table from our house!)

Maybe, somehow, Edmund and Peridan and Susan were all back home safe and sound from their sea voyage, although that seems like a really fast boat trip and additionally you would think Rabadash would know this (since his plan is to whisk Susan off the beach some hours from now) and you'd also think their first thought on hitting shore would be to check on the borders and make sure, you know, their flight didn't start a war. But, okay, let's handwave that the Stag got to Cair Paravel at the same time Edmund and Peridan and Susan got there and the boat had really good winds and made excellent time because Aslan. So where is Susan again?

I am the first to appreciate the Diplomats and Politicians and Leaders who stay home and run the country responsibly and aren't worth less because they can't or won't fight. And I also completely understand why Susan might not want to put herself anywhere near Rabadash right now given that his stated intention through all this is to capture, kidnap, and rape her. But. We also have a context here where Lewis is profoundly unsure what to do with Susan narratively because she's an adult woman who isn't elderly and is attractive and sexually aware and all those things are basically the worst things a person can be in Lewis' view. So he's left Susan off the page and given us Lucy who is young and merry and non-threatening to the men and as good as a boy. She's even the Bow Chick now despite that being Susan's thing. Have we ever heard of Lucy using a bow before now? Back when Susan and Trumpkin were shooting at things in Prince Caspian? No? Didn't think so.

As a survivor myself, I am livid at having Susan shoved off the page for this last battle because she made Lewis uncomfortable. If you're going to write in the threat of rape and kidnapping in your novel, you can't just then abandon it midway through the plot because the implications weren't fun to deal with. Rape is not set-dressing. And as a writer, I am shaking my head at the utter criminal waste all this has been; Lewis has set up two lady protagonists in matching situations--Aravis is escaping a forced marriage on horseback while Susan escapes one by boat--and then just abandons all that and any hope for the two women to discover each other and bond over their shared situations because Lewis just couldn't deal with that many women on the page.

So instead we get Girlish Lucy, who bounces around the page in a non-threatening manner and bonds with Aravis over clothes, despite Aravis previously scorning Lasaraleen over liking clothes, even when her scorn made no sense at all for the character we'd been given up to that point. In Lewis' canon, girly-girls are bad because they're foolish and silly, but they're still a far sight better than sexy-women who will emasculate you with their feminine laughter. (Boyish-girls are the best, of course, but not too masculine or it makes Aslan sad. They need to be able to switch back to girly-girls on command. Look, it's complicated.)

So for all that and more, I'm annoyed that Susan the Archer has been shoved into a pocket dimension so that we never have to see her again while Lucy the Administrator (who had been left behind alone at Cair Paravel because she was good at administrating) has been shoved into the archer line so that we have a Token Girl for our final fight. Hell's bells, I almost wish Lewis had left both of them at home with the excuse that Susan was traumatized by this whole thing (escaping rape isn't exactly a fun thing, nor is finding out your near-fiance was willing to invade your country to try again) and needed Lucy to comfort her. At least that would take the whole rape plot seriously rather than bring it up only to toss it aside as soon as it wasn't necessary any more. And they could send for Aravis and we could see the three of them talking together rather than Aravis being sealed in a Shasta bubble for the rest of the book.

   After that came the main body of the army: men on ordinary horses, men on Talking Horses (who didn’t mind being ridden on proper occasions, as when Narnia went to war), centaurs, stern, hard-bitten bears, great Talking Dogs, and last of all six giants. For there are good giants in Narnia. But though he knew they were on the right side Shasta at first could hardly bear to look at them; there are some things that take a lot of getting used to.

Items of note here:

• Stern bears? Not stern Bears? Can we not consistently capitalize the sapient Animals?

• For that matter, was it really necessary to prefix "Talking" to Dogs and Horses? I realize that "Talking" is shorthand in Narnia for sapience, but it's kind of weirdly ableist when you peer at it. Is sapience recognized in Animals who can't talk? We've seen non-talking mermaids who were clearly sapient (Voyage of the Dawn Treader), and Animals must occasionally suffer the same injuries and disabilities that render humans unable to speak. It's just weirdly off-putting after five books.

• WHERE ARE ALL THESE HUMANS COMING FROM? Narnia was supposed to have a human population of literally zero. They were so thoroughly wiped out that Mr. Tumnus thought Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve were practically some kind of mythological fantasy. (Which was cute and bi-directional since obviously Lucy and the human readers thought the same thing about fauns.) Now they're running all over Narnia something like ten years later, such that the Pevensies have an entire court and standing army of them.

• A standing army of humans. These aren't lords that were summoned up from their estates because that takes time. They have so many humans the extras can just hang around the court waiting for an emergency to happen so they can grab their swords. There's an infrastructure in place for feeding all these soldiers! This book is so clearly set in the time of King Caspian and it would have made so much more sense there and it wouldn't have involved the Breaking of Susan and literally the only reason we're using Pevensies (and trodding all over world-building and canon in the process) is because Lewis straight up could not figure out how to insert an adult womanly Helen of Troy figure in Caspian's setting. He thinks women are that rare, that the only woman ever in Narnia was Susan.

• You wanna fuck over your world-building, Lewis? Let's go there. Everything you've written in this book makes it clear that the Pevensies immediately imported a fuck-ton of humans to serve in their court and standing army, thus thoroughly ousting all the Animals who fought and died to crown them. That's not a Golden Age, buddy, that's a racist regime. And this is all supposed to be okay because you write the Animals as stupid and lazy and uncaring of heavy things like politics so they were totes cool with foreign humans coming in and making human laws over human concerns and the Animals having zero representation in government, literally they do not even have a parliament.

• All the centaurs and dwarves and dryads and nymphs and satyrs and river gods and shit were cool with that too, totally okay with humans just swarming into their country and taking literally all the power for themselves in the wake of the White Witch's death. Everyone thought this plan was grand.

• These imported humans didn't seize the opportunity to try to establish power in Narnia by either getting rid of the Pevensies entirely while they were children or pressuring them to marry local brides and grooms in order to mingle their blood into the noble dynasty. Nope, these humans are all totally okay with their kings not marrying at all and Susan and Lucy being sent off to live in another country as brides for some other monarch, rather than being married off local and bearing the princely children of whoever was opportunistic enough to woo them. Literally no. Do you even history, bro?

• And these imported humans are all totally Aslanites despite presumably never seeing him because has he even visited since that one time he crowned the Pevensie kids because it sure doesn't seem like it. They 100% don't eat the meat or eggs or milk or whatever other products of Animals despite coming from countries that canonically don't have sapient animals, like Calormen and the Lone Islands. Don't tell me all these folks are coming from Archenland when it's a tiny sliver of mountains that you can ride across in less than a day; they wouldn't have had enough humans for the Pevensies to import an entire court and army, let alone the Well-Bred Courtly kind you fetishize so much.

• Don't you dare tell me all these "humans" you keep talking about are really humanoid nymphs or whatever because (a) they totally aren't, (b) we both know you'd rather cut your own ear off than make MALE nymphs for the army (and they aren't satyrs and they're definitely not river gods or their powers would come up in the upcoming battle), and (c) seriously they're humans and you were writing Telmarines until you realized you had to shove the Pevensies in here because you couldn't imagine your readers caring about your Narnian Helen of Troy if she hadn't been first established as a child and therefore slightly worth caring about (as opposed to those unsympathetic women).

• Seriously, your world-building.

   Just as the King and Queen reached the cottage and the Dwarfs began making low bows to them, King Edmund called out:
   “Now, friends! Time for a halt and a morsel!” and at once there was a great bustle of people dismounting and haversacks being opened and conversation beginning when Corin came running up to Shasta and seized both his hands and cried:

WAIT. Why the fuck are the King and Queen and army coming the Dwarves' home for food? How did they even know this was where Shasta was, because the Stag didn't know! And is this mountain pass even where they want to be entering Archenland? Wasn't there a more direct route and the whole point of this pass was that it was hard for even one horse to get over it but Aslan was there to guide them? Why are they here? I get that they might want to talk to the messenger, but literally right now? Because there's a capital city being attacked and that seems like the higher priority?

   [Corin] “What! You here! So you got through all right? I am glad. Now we shall have some sport. And isn’t it luck! We only got into the harbor at Cair Paravel yesterday morning and the very first person who met us was Chervy the Stag with this news of an attack on Anvard. Don’t you think—”
   “Who is your Highness’s friend?” said King Edmund who had just got off his horse.
   “Don’t you see, Sire?” said Corin. “It’s my double: the boy you mistook me for at Tashbaan.”
   “Why, so he is your double,” exclaimed Queen Lucy. “As like as two twins. This is a marvelous thing.”


There... there is only screaming. What... is any of this.

Why are they bringing Prince Corin to this war? Shouldn't he be kept back in Cair Paravel in case King Lune is killed by Rabadash? Shouldn't he be kept away from the war in case Rabadash captures the prince and uses him to force King Lune to open the city gates? And what the hell is King Edmund... like... is he not looking? Because the twins are supposed to be identical in every point, so "who is your friend" is possibly the most bizarre thing anyone could ever say in this situation.

No, but wait we have an even more bizarre... Lucy's chirruping how marvelously they look "as like as two twins" when literally the King and Queen must know that Corin has a missing (presumed dead) twin. There's no way that Cor's birth was secret. There was no reason for Cor's birth to be secret! The kingdom would have been rejoicing at the birth of two boys, two princes, two heirs to the throne. Official notices would have been sent to neighbors like Narnia. Cor wasn't kidnapped until later, so the news of his birth simply couldn't have been suppressed. What is Lucy doing? She's not hinting around this (like Lune did), but she's using the T-word without attaching any real significance to it.

How does Corin not know he has a twin? Okay, sure, they kept it from him for emotional reasons but counterpoint: he is a mischievous prince who sneaks and fights and collects secrets and knows every back passage in the palace and gets into trouble. He is an archetype and that archetype is someone who knows about his missing brother because he overheard the maids talking in hushed voices down a back servant's passage or he dug up an old birth announcement scroll while sneaking around his father's office of state or a friendly old groom who gives him apples when he sneaks away from court confided in him. Corin simply isn't well-behaved enough to only know the official line!

Every time I read that paragraph my brain breaks. Like. Edmund, what the fuck? Beyond anything else, he knows Corin has a double because Corin told him back in Tashbaan--or on the boat, since I sincerely hope Edmund didn't know about Cor until after they had left and it was too late to send someone to get him. Except they had a Raven with them! How did this conversation go down? At some point Corin--somehow, impossibly, not knowing about his twin--tells a funny story about how they were all taken in by his double back at the palace and Edmund--THE WISE--has to realize he's telling the truth because it explains why "Corin" was so confused and filthy and frightened and so he then... does nothing?

He doesn't even send his Raven friend out to scout the desert (where Corin knew Shasta would be, crossing with a Talking Horse escaping slavery, like literally Shasta told Corin that so Edmund must have been told this by Corin) to guide the kid who, at the very least, sounds like a decent sort helping a Native Narnian to freedom and, at the most likely, is the long-lost prince of the nearby kingdom?

How would you?

Why would you ever?


Grapes saying "What" by Natalie Dee
by Natalie Dee

   “Please, your Majesty,” said Shasta to King Edmund, “I was no traitor, really I wasn’t. And I couldn’t help hearing your plans. But I’d never have dreamed of telling them to your enemies.”
   “I know now that you were no traitor, boy,” said King Edmund, laying his hand on Shasta’s head. “But if you would not be taken for one, another time try not to hear what’s meant for other ears. But all’s well.”


Edmund. The Just. The Wise. The Traitor. Edmund who was sentenced to death as a child for "betraying" his country and people when he was confused and scared and frightened and lied to and. That Edmund is right now lecturing a confused, scared, strangely-English-accented young boy on how not to act traitorous by... what? Being dragged along by scary royalty, like Edmund was as a kid? Being mistaken for royalty or destined thereto, like Edmund was as a kid? Keeping his head down and not contradicting his betters, like Edmund did as a kid?

I mean, this is a series where old men are smacked in the head for questioning royalty. Hell, this is a series where kings' lives depend on the right people "hearing what's meant for other ears". But it's okay when Peter and Edmund and Trumpkin decide to eavesdrop yet not okay for a confused and scared kid to not shut everyone down by magic somehow?

And I know I keep harping on this but Edmund is talking to a lost prince of Archenland. How is that not going to come up until the end? There is no goddamn reason for no one to bring this up until the end. At the very least it's a little important because, again, they're heading into battle where people can get captured or killed and it's a wee bit important that the crown princes not be captured!

Okay. I promised myself I would finish this chapter.

   After that there was so much bustle and talk and coming and going that Shasta for a few minutes lost sight of Corin and Edmund and Lucy. But Corin was the sort of boy whom one is sure to hear of pretty soon and it wasn’t very long before Shasta heard King Edmund saying in a loud voice:
   “By the Lion’s Mane, prince, this is too much! Will your Highness never be better? You are more of a heart’s-scald than our whole army together! I’d as lief have a regiment of hornets in my command as you.”

So, hey, no one cares about keeping the Lost Prince in sight. I'd be vexed but King Lune already lost him in a fog so whatever. Back on my world-building hobby-horse, I get to wonder whether all the humans imported by the Pevensies were also the people who taught them how to speak like this. It's barely intelligible to me, and certainly not something I'd cobble together as a kid even if I was trying to "sound kingly". Like, you have to know the words before you can use them, you know?

Other thoughts: A regiment of Hornets would be awesome. Lewis, why do you dangle nice things we can't have?

   Shasta wormed his way through the crowd and there saw Edmund, looking very angry indeed, Corin looking a little ashamed of himself, and a strange Dwarf sitting on the ground making faces. A couple of fauns had apparently just been helping it out of its armor.
   “If I had but my cordial with me,” Queen Lucy was saying, “I could soon mend this. But the High King has so strictly charged me not to carry it commonly to the wars and to keep it only for great extremities!”

Spoiler: The Dwarf has a sprained ankle. I don't mean to make light of that, but I'm just... not thrilled at Lucy's characterization as a Soft Soul who has to be Strictly Charged not to waste a finite magical healing potion on things that can sort themselves out in a couple of weeks. It's gross and infantilizing and just one more fun look into how Lewis feels about adult women.

   What had happened was this. As soon as Corin had spoken to Shasta, Corin’s elbow had been plucked by a Dwarf in the army called Thornbut.
   “What is it, Thornbut?” Corin had said.
   “Your Royal Highness,” said Thornbut, drawing him aside, “our march today will bring us through the pass and right to your royal father’s castle. We may be in battle before night.”
   “I know,” said Corin. “Isn’t it splendid!”
   “Splendid or not,” said Thornbut, “I have the strictest orders from King Edmund to see to it that your Highness is not in the fight. You will be allowed to see it, and that’s treat enough for your Highness’s little years.”
   “Oh what nonsense!” Corin burst out. “Of course I’m going to fight. Why, the Queen Lucy’s going to be with the archers.”
   “The Queen’s grace will do as she pleases,” said Thornbut. “But you are in my charge. Either I must have your solemn and princely word that you’ll keep your pony beside mine—not half a neck ahead—till I give your Highness leave to depart: or else—it is his Majesty’s word—we must go with our wrists tied together like two prisoners.”
   “I’ll knock you down if you try to bind me,” said Corin.
   “I’d like to see your Highness do it,” said the Dwarf.
   That was quite enough for a boy like Corin and in a second he and the Dwarf were at it hammer and tongs. It would have been an even match for, though Corin had longer arms and more height, the Dwarf was older and tougher. But it was never fought out (that’s the worst of fights on a rough hillside) for by very bad luck Thornbut trod on a loose stone, came flat down on his nose, and found when he tried to get up that he had sprained his ankle: a real excruciating sprain which would keep him from walking or riding for at least a fortnight.

I... oh god, my head.

From a practical perspective, why would this go down this way? Has this dwarf ever met Corin? Like, this isn't surprising to us and we've only seen about twenty pages of his privileged violent childish ass. Anyone who has spent even a day around him had to foresee that this would happen. So negative points to this dwarf for being taunted into this (he's an adult and Corin is, what, fourteen? tops?) and a whole bucket of negative points to King Edmund for leaving it to the poor dwarf to have to explain his majesty's orders to this kid. Fuck you, Edmund.

Setting that aside, this is a great example of how chivalry is a pile of steaming shit, particularly as practiced by privileged dudes. An order from King Edmund is supposed to be just under an order from God Himself in this world. Corin should be disappointed but obedient. He's not and that's probably supposed to be a character flaw, but he's not going to suffer from it in any way and dear god this is the kid who is supposed to be king someday.

Look, kids aren't necessarily a reflection on their parents and the most saintly parent in the world can have an asshole son but color me super unimpressed at the oft-quoted King Lune speech about what a burden it is to be king over everyone and eat least (which they never do) and tighten their belts and set a good example because, when it comes down to an order that Prince Corin doesn't want to obey, not only does he refuse to do what his lord wills, he actually physically assaults the poor guy who was just following the king's orders. Where was Lune to teach him not to do that because holy fuck?

I know I'm a moralistic scold, but this scene--Prince Corin attacking an underling--exists in the same book as a scene wherein Prince Rabadash attacks an underling. I didn't force Lewis to write that juxtaposition! It's right here on the page and honestly I'm not sure if he even noticed because we're supposed to think Prince Rabadash is the worst for assaulting a courtier but we're not supposed to think Prince Corin is the worst for assaulting a dwarf. There's a modicum more of consent here--obviously Ahoshta didn't ask to be kicked whereas the dwarf challenged Corin to "try"--but there's still a huge differential of power here that is being unacknowledged!

I honestly can't tell how deep the parallels are meant to go. I'm still not sure whether Lewis noticed that he set up two women fleeing from rape, since they're both handled so badly; he drops Susan halfway through the book and Aravis' flight from Ahoshta isn't mentioned again once she leaves Tashbaan. (Note: This is not how to sensitively handle a rape story. Or a forced marriage story. Or any story in which a woman is threatened with sexual violence.) Now on the tail end of Susan and Aravis being so alike in situation and for all that Lewis set Shasta and Corin up as twins, he seems not to have noticed that if anyone is "as like as two twins" in this book, it's... Rabadash and Corin.

What, really, is the difference between Rabadash and Corin in the narrative? They both excel at courtly displays of violence like jousting. (Rabadash won Susan's heart with the "marvelous feats he did in that great tournament" and King Peter "has promised [Corin's] royal father that he himself will make you Knight".) They both have zero care for the responsibility of government and want to follow their own whims regardless of the impact on their people. They both consider it appropriate to assault their ministers if they are angry enough and the appropriate conditions exist. They are both canonically considered by their fathers to be unfit leaders; the Tisroc is planning Rabadash's replacement by a younger son, while Lune is openly relieved to have Shasta replace Corin as heir.

By the end of the story, neither Rabadash nor Corin really learn a lesson or become better people; they're just sort of vaguely and ineffectively restrained by others while they continue to wreck minor havoc from a position of power. I'm saying there's an opportunity here to properly bookend this novel with a sequel where Corin tries to forcibly marry a Calormene princess against her will. I can absolutely see him trying to do that while thinking himself the hero and wounded party.

   “See what your Highness has done,” said King Edmund. “Deprived us of a proved warrior on the very edge of battle.”
   “I’ll take his place, Sire,” said Corin.
   “Pshaw,” said Edmund. “No one doubts your courage. But a boy in battle is a danger only to his own side.”

PLUS YOU ARE THE CROWN PRINCE AND A PERFECT HOSTAGE. This isn't about courage or capability, this is about the fact that your capture would endanger the people in Anvard! Remember them the people behind the gates, whose safety was so vital (or possibly not) in the earlier narrative? They need those gates to stay closed and that's going to be difficult if the Calormen soldiers manage to capture you! Bonus points: The dude leading the invasion has met you and knows exactly what you look like. You arrogant thoughtless cavernous pit of steaming selfish shit!

   At that moment the King was called away to attend to something else, and Corin, after apologizing handsomely to the Dwarf, rushed up to Shasta and whispered:

"apologizing handsomely"

I can't.

"Lying Cat", saying "Lying"

   “Quick. There’s a spare pony now, and the Dwarf’s armor. Put it on before anyone notices.”
   “What for?” said Shasta.
   “Why, so that you and I can fight in the battle of course! Don’t you want to?”
   “Oh—ah, yes, of course,” said Shasta. But he hadn’t been thinking of doing so at all, and began to get a most uncomfortable prickly feeling in his spine.
   “That’s right,” said Corin. “Over your head. Now the sword-belt. But we must ride near the tail of the column and keep as quiet as mice. Once the battle begins everyone will be far too busy to notice us.”

Oh my god, how do these kingdoms even work? This is the second time that Princes have just been sort of lost because they rode at the back and the adults didn't notice them or take any mind. That is not how any of this works, literally in the history of never would this have been possible.

That finishes out the chapter and there are three more left. Send help.


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